For just more than a month, ever since the McDonald’s All American rosters were revealed, Foothills Christian (San Diego) point guard Jaylen Hands has seen the proverbial bull’s-eye on his back grow even bigger.
Game after game, opposing players have brought their “A” games to the hardwood, no doubt wanting to prove their worth against one of the 24 players selected to play in the prestigious game.
“They’ve definitely come with a lot more now that I’m a McDonald’s All American,” Hands said. “But I love it; that only makes me step my game up even more.”
Hands’ game will be at an all-time high after the McDonald’s Hometown Heroes presented by American Family Insurance stopped by his school Tuesday and presented him with an honorary jersey for the McDonald’s All American Game, which tips March 29 at the United Center in Chicago.
“This is such an honor,” said Hands, a UCLA signee who is ranked No. 26 overall in the ESPN 100. “It’s a surreal feeling to have this jersey knowing that guys like Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kevin Durant played in it. It’s hard to describe how much of an honor this is. It makes me want to elevate my game even more.”
A scary thought considering that Hands is averaging 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists a game for Knights, who post a record of 17-5.
“I’m focused on finishing strong and trying to win states with my team right now,” Hands said. “We’re in a good position, but we’ve got some work to do. When I’m not playing, I definitely keep up with my UCLA guys.”
Particularly, Bruins point guard Lonzo Ball, a freshman who has more than lived up to the hype averaging 15.1 points, 7.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds a game this season. Most NBA Draft projection sites have Ball going in the top 10 this June, opening immediate playing time for Hands.
“I look at all of the success he’s having at the position I’ll be playing and that’s exciting,” Hands said of Ball. “We have different games, so I’ll be a different player, but to see all of the freedom the coaches give him is really cool. I can’t wait until I’m able to get there and I’m hoping to have the same type of success.”
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